Yes, Havana has lost the Barbary Coast spirit of prerevolutionary days, but habaneros love to paint the town red (so to speak) as much as their budgets allow. Many venues are seedier (albeit without the strippers) than they were in the 1950s; in many the decor hasn’t changed!
Nightlife is a lot tamer than it was just a decade ago, not least because pricey entrance fees dissuade Cubans from attending.
Cubans are even priced out of most bars (one beer can cost the equivalent of a week’s salary), few of which have any energy. Habaneros mostly socialize impromptu, on the street.
For theater, classical concerts, and other live performances it’s difficult to make a reservation by telephone. Instead, go to the venue and buy a ticket in advance or just before the performance. Call ahead to double-check dates, times, and venue.
Havana lacks a reliable, widely circulated forum for announcements of upcoming events. Word of mouth is the best resource.
A good Internet source is Egrem (in Spanish only, tel. 07/204-4685, http://promociones.egrem.co.cu), which maintains a weekly update of live concerts nationwide on its website.
Cartelera (www.lajiribilla.cu/cartelera_cultural.html) also has weekly updates on its website; its weekly publication with information on exhibitions, galleries, performances, and more in both Spanish and English is available in many hotel lobbies, as is the monthly Guía Cultural de la Habana, which provides up-to-date information on what’s on in town.
Granma, the daily Communist Party newspaper, also lists the forthcoming week’s events.
Radio Taíno (1290 AM and 93.3 FM), serving tourists, offers information on cultural happenings with nightly broadcasts 5–7 p.m., as does Radio Habana (94.9 FM); the TV program Hurón Azul (Cubavision) gives a preview of the next week’s top happenings every Thursday at 10:25 p.m.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition